Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

The Journey of Governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia: A Road to ‘Successful Failure’? By Caleb Onah

Caleb Onah

We all know in the realm of politics, success and failure are often judged by a wide range of factors, including governance policies, socioeconomic development, public opinion, and the ability to tackle complex challenges.

While Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia’s emergence as the Governor of Benue State is still sparking intriguing debates and raising a thought-provoking question: Will he ‘fail’ successfully?

The selection of a reverend father as the governor of a state is undeniably ‘unconventional’ and has raised eyebrows across the political spectrum. Critics, mostly the opposition parties, argue that governance requires a skill set beyond religious leadership, and the performance of ‘exorcisms’ isn’t what is always needed, emphasising the need for political acumen and administrative experience.

However, while we proponents of this appointment believe that Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia’s religious background may bring unique qualities to the political landscape, such as ethics, compassion, and a deep-rooted commitment to the welfare of the people considering the spiritual stance.

It is crucial to recognise that Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia faces immense challenges and the burden of heightened expectations. The people of Benue State, who entrusted him with their mandate, anticipate significant positive and rapid changes in their lives as a whole.

Addressing complex issues such as poverty, unemployment, healthcare, education, and security will require strategic planning, effective governance, and collaboration with diverse stakeholders.

During his democracy speech, the governor assured the workers that salaries would be paid starting from June 25th. Additionally, in 2017, the workers faced a backlog of five months’ unpaid salaries, which the previous governor, Samuel Ortom, had pledged to settle but failed to do so, resulting in an accumulation of six months’ worth of arrears.

To review recent developments on the matter, workers in Benue State expressed their admiration for Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia, for fulfilling his promise to initiate salary payments starting from June 25, 2023. Various employees in the state praised the governor’s actions and encouraged him to maintain his commitment to timely salary disbursements.

Regarding the security situation, the Governor made this known during his inaugural speech on prioritising security and the safety of the Benue people. However, In my opinion not much has been done.

However, recently the Governor through his Deputy addressed the matter during a press conference held in the state capital, Makurdi. He clarified he would deal with perpetrators of violence and that the current administration had no intentions of collaborating with any unknown security organisation purportedly working with the new government to facilitate the return of displaced individuals to their original homes.

This statement was issued in response to criticism from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party regarding the alleged establishment of a security outfit named Al-Tershak Global Security Limited in the state.

Contrary to widespread speculation that he would overturn the open grazing prohibition law, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia has issued a stern warning to troublemakers, emphasising that the anti-open grazing law is still in effect and must be respected by all within the state.

These resolutions were reached during the Security Council meeting held at Government House in Makurdi on June 22, 2023. During a press briefing following the meeting, Governor Alia announced that after thorough deliberations, the state has firmly decided not to tolerate open grazing and urged everyone to comply with the law.

To address the issue of insecurity in the state, a multi-sectoral approach will be adopted. The meeting emphasised that all stakeholders must recognise and abide by the fact that the Anti-open grazing law remains in force in Benue State. Governor Alia stressed the importance of enforcing this law and stated that it is here to stay.

On the other hand, he also highlighted the need for a combination of approaches, including dialogue, rather than relying solely on a single strategy. Within a few days in office, the Governor called for the sincere implementation and enforcement of the Anti-Open Grazing Law by all law enforcement agencies.

The meeting also underscored the significance of creating a peaceful environment for internally displaced persons (IDPs) to safely return to their ancestral homes. The focus should now be on preventing attacks by armed and criminal herders, rather than responding reactively.

While these are good for his ‘kickstart’ success, it is important to know governance is a complex endeavour, especially in a politically charged environment. Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia will face the daunting task of navigating the intricacies of political alliances, managing competing interests as we have seen in recent days already, and maintaining a delicate balance between diverse factions and tribes in the State.

On employment level, the recent actions taken by the current Governor, resulted in the cancellation of recent appointments made by the previous administration in the State Civil Service. Alia, stated that the, All appointments made into the state civil service by the previous administration from May 2022 to the present day are hereby declared null and void, effective immediately.

Prior to the new governor’s inauguration, the former ruling People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress engaged in a contentious exchange regarding last-minute policies implemented by the Ortom administration.

These policies included the recruitment of workers, staff promotions, and contract awards. The APC, represented by Daniel Ihomun, raised concerns and accused the previous administration of creating obstacles for the smooth transition of power to the new government.

Now we can begin to state the success of Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia’s administration will depend not only on his personal integrity but also on his ability to build bridges, forge partnerships, and garner support from within and outside his political party. Failing to achieve these goals may result in political isolation and hinder his capacity to enact meaningful change.

Despite his recent ministerial appointments of Emmanuel Terlumun Agema as Acting Chairman, Benue State Internal Revenue Service, BIRS. Barr. Musa Sulaiman Ujor appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff, Iorshagher Ikyereve as Press Secretary and Lawrence Ogwuche as Deputy Private Secretary with immediate effect much is still needed to be done concerning his appointments.

No matter what, Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia’s leadership will be under constant scrutiny from the media, the opposition, and the citizens of Benue State. His actions, decisions, and policies already perceived by the public as mostly ‘good’ will shape the narrative surrounding his tenure.

Despite the potential for substantive achievements, negative perception or miscommunication can overshadow progress and lead to a perception of failure, even in the absence of tangible shortcomings.

Now it is essential to question the traditional notions of success and failure in politics. In a landscape dominated by short-term gains and immediate outcomes, it is easy to overlook long-term vision, ethical governance, and transformative leadership.

Rev. Fr. Hyacith Alia’s success should not be solely measured by short-term policy victories or political wins but rather by his commitment to the values of justice, equity, and the overall well-being of the people he serves. But the question I’ll ask again, will he still ‘fail’ successfully or outperform other past governors of the state? 

Onah is a health and mental health writer and researcher. He can be reached via [email protected]

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